General Instructions (Instructiones Pontificum Romanorum)

The general instructions given by the popes and their counsellors to the legates and nuncios when sending them on their missions contain the key provisions for dealing with expected situations at their destinations as well as useful information. They serve as a guideline for the papal envoys, at the same time expressing the expectations of the Roman Curia regarding the relations between the papacy and a single princely court or territory. Unlike the correspondence editions of the legates and nuncios published by various scientific institutions, focused on the bilateral communication between Rome and one court/territory on a national level, the publications of the general instructions include all texts of this kind given at one particular pontificate from a European and global perspective. Apart from the commented documents, the introduction outlines the international relations and the confessional policy of the Roman curia and offers comprehensive information about the Secretariat of State and the papal emissaries.

At present three publications concerning three pontificates are available (Clement VIII Aldobrandini, Paul V Borghese, Gregory XV Ludovisi), which cover a period of more than 30 years and make it possible to establish the development of papal and curial policy around 1600 with all its continuities and discontinuities.


All volumes are available at the website of the De Gruyter publishing house, Berlin-Boston.

Die Hauptinstruktionen Clemens VIII. für die Nuntien und Legaten an den europäischen Fürstenhöfen 15921605, ed. by Klaus Jaitner (2 vols., CCLXXXIX, 1040 pp.), Tübingen 1984.

Die Hauptinstruktionen Gregors XV. für die Nuntien und Gesandten an den europäischen Fürstenhöfen 16211623, ed. by Klaus Jaitner (2 vols., 1302 pp.), Tübingen 1997.

Le istruzioni generali di Paolo V ai diplomatici pontifici 16051621, ed. by Silvano Giordano OCD. Edizione promossa dall'Istituto Storico Germanico di Roma (3 vols., XXI, 1684 pp.), Tübingen 2003.

Le istruzioni generali di Urbano VIII ai diplomatici pontifici 16231644, ed. by Silvano Giordano OCD. Edizione promossa dall'Istituto Storico Germanico di Roma (in preparation).